07.01.2006 33 °C
The next few days in Goas were very sedate, mostly sat on the beach in the day and eating and drinking amazing grub at dirt cheap prices.
The Goans have an astounding memory for names and faces, each time someone speaks to you they ask your name and then you'll hear your name called out with a hello three days later from a guy you perhaps spent 10 seconds talking to. Very friendly bunch too, no aggressively hawking like in other Indian cities.
The most fun things to watch were the Indian builders putting up what I can only assume will be a hotel when they finally finish it in about 35 years at the rate they go. No messing around with mechanical diggers, cement mixers and the like for Indian builders, why bother to use them when you can haver a steady stream of cement wallahs ( a line of 20 of them each passing a bucket of cement to pour on the foundations whilst 7 more look and watch!) None of those girly western safety features like saftey helmets and steel scaffolding either when a stick of bamboo perched precariously on a rock and a baseball cap will do! I only saw one power tools being used the whole time I was there and that was used to screw a sign above a shop, but still it took three people to hold the drill (a tiny cheap black and decker handheld job) with another two to hold up the single piece of bamboo that the three above were precariously hanging onto. Being Goa of course the power cut out on them every 5 minutes so they had to have a sit down and have a chat for the 3 hours until power came back for another 5 minutes. Efficient they are NOT but they certainly make sure everyone is employed (even if they don't appear to do any work!)
The other amazing thing to watch is the aminal interactions. Every bar/hotel etc has a dog, a mangy stray looking thing that's constantly scratching itself but they are great animals. they patrol their own 15 yards of bar, marking territory all the time and totally oblivious to tourists. They bark and chase off other dogs, cows and even seem to know who's a potential customer. I saw three of them band together and chase off a crippled guy who came into the bar begging yet they don't even bark at bar customers.
The cows are great as well, they all stroll down to the beach at about 11am, plonk themselves down on the sand and go to sleep for about 3 hours before getting up, having a little stroll around, eat anyone's handbags etc that happen to be on the floor before another leisurely 4 hour kip, and maybe take a crap on someone unlucky enough to be on a sunbed anywhere near them.
then at about 6pm the dogs seem to sense it's time for the cows to go home and about 5 of them will run out of the various bars and team up to literally herd the cows off the beach like sheepdogs. They'll run around the cows and bark at them, herding them up to the beach exit. The cows apart from the occasional half hearted attempt to butt a dog if it gets too near seem to accept this and by 7pm the cows are all gone.
New Years Eve was amazing, the beach was totally packed, the most amazing Firework display I have ever seen and huge stages and sound systems set up on the beach. Dancing cows, loads of Bhangra and loads of beer, a good night all round!
Anyway after 5 weeks it was time to leave India, although there were beautiful parts of it, mostly wherever there were any local people they turned it into a nasty polluted crap hole. Probably not somewhere I'd go back to again!
Flight to Singapore was pleasant and we arrived in Singapore at the most amazing airport in the world. You want it it's there, spotlessly clean, fountains everywhere, everyone well dressed, shops all ovwer the place and a huge indoor swimming pool along with massive video rooms, games rooms etc! The airport had more facilities than I saww throughout the whole 5 weeks in India!
Travel to the hostel was painless, nice clean air con Tube train system, although comparing it to ours would be like comparing a clapped out Fiat Panda to a Porsche. Everything was spotless, well signed in English as well as Indian, Chinese and malay, friendly staff everywhere, cheap as well, Oyster card style things only. On 2 or 3 occassions just getting to the station at the airport we were stopped by people not to try and rip us off or beg as happened every time you stood still in India for more than 5 seconds but to ask us if we needed any help as we looked a little lost. The people are SOOO friendly and for no gain of their own.
After leaving India we needed to wash the filth of India off us (Chris even sat down next to a woman on the train who vanished sharpish holding her nose!) so off to the hostel for a shower!
Anyway we got to the hostel, pretty much standard fare, assorted Brits, Yanks and Aussies crammed into bunk beds and 18 of us sharing 2 cols showers and one toilet. But the place is clean, people respect being quiet at night and everyone is firiendly.
The first day we wandered around shocked at how clean everything is, not one single broken paving stone or a single piece of litter. Everything is clean, modern and the people are friendly to the point they all look and acvt like MTV or Blue Peter Presenters. I know the way they enforce this is through harsh penalties for things like littering or carrying open food or drinks on the trains ($1000 dollars each) but they seem to have created a Utopian environment where every single person is well dressed, well fed and happy.
friday night we hit Clarke Quay and the bars/restaurants there would put anything in London to shame. Think Canary Wharf mixed up with Covent Garden! Food was great, good beer (Tiger) and friendly people. Live bands everywhere.
Chris got his first offer from a prostitute (or he assumed she was) when after dancing with him for 5 mins she asked if he wanted to go to a hotel nearby! lol! He mumbled no thanks in his Northern nonsensical way after a fair few pints and then proceeded to tell me at very high volume "See that bird there, I think she's a hooker" So she scuttled off quickly, I only hope he was right and that she wasn't just a friendly local trying her best to be a good Singaporean as we found out from a newspaper magazine that the Prime Minister has issued New year resolutions for the people.
1 work harder
2 Lose weight
3 Have loads more sex.
(in the article he evens says that Singapore is lowest on the having sex world table and that Singaporeans need to 'put out more' and that it'll help them to achieve number 2 in the process.
Can you imagine the uproar if The Queen of Tony B Liar made the same pronouncment back home!
the other cool thing was the Menu on every bar table. it looks like a normal beer/wine menu until you read it. It has things like Cannabis price 15 lashes and $15000 fine. The best one was Cocaine, Price DEATH or 50 lashes and 50 years prison!!
No violence, all bars modern clean air conned, taxis plentiful and cheap and even a Ministry of Sound just opened the day we were there.
Saturday we went to Sentosa island on the southern tip which is like a Disney beach resort, stunning beaches, rides, aquarium, nature parks, amusement park and loads of food etc. Was a great day. Wandered through some shopping malls of which there is one every 20 yards and they are amazing, every shop in the world and great food courts (where we tried some Thai food which was amazing and the hottest thing I have eaten bar none!! I pity the person who used the toilet after me this morning!)
Today is pissing down, well we are in monsoon season, it hasn't stopped raining since 6am and none of you wussy English rain, this stuff makes your head bleed if you stand in it too long. yet the streets aren't flooded, the trains are still running eveyone just carries an Umbrella.
Went to Changi prison today to go to the War Museum and tried to take a sneak through the bars to see if there's any stupid Brits waiting to be executed for drug importation.!
Did the Zoo as well, best zoo ever, no bars or cages, just moats to keep the animals in their enclosures mostly worked although when it started pissing down with rain a few of the monkeys and peacocks jumped out of their enclosures and came and sat with us in the rain shelters! You name it they had them there, White Tigers, Rhinos, elephnats, Manatees, Polar Bears etc! Very Highly recommended.
Well last night in Singapore as off to Kuala Lumpar in Malaysia tomorrow am on the train.